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VisitBritain unveils partnerships in bid to attract Chinese travellers

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Tourism agency VisitBritain has signed new partnership deals with two China-based travel sector giants as part of a strategy to attract more Chinese visitors to the UK.

The partnerships with Hainan Airlines – owned by the HNA Group – and Alitrip, the tourism arm of global leisure giant Alibaba Group, will seek to strengthen the UK’s appeal to China, which is now the world’s most valuable outbound tourism market.

The partnership with Alitrip will create a virtual British marketplace on Alitrip’s digital platform, showcasing the diversity of UK tourism products directly to millions of Chinese consumers.

It will also promote “great experiences and destinations” across Britain to Chinese visitors, designed to convert the inspiration to visit into bookings.

Alitrip senior vice president Jerry Hu said: “The UK National Tourism Pavilion on the Alitrip platform will reach more than 200 million Alitrip users through a variety of cultural and tourism resources, combined with innovative e-travel products and packages – introducing potential Chinese tourists to all the UK has to offer as a top international tourism destination.

“Through the pavilion, they will learn about the UK, fall in love with the UK and ultimately make the UK part of their future or current travel plans.”

Meanwhile, HNA Group has applied for five new airline routes into Britain, following a new air service agreement between China and the UK. The Chinese cities to be connected directly with Britain are Changsha, Chengdu, Qingdao, Shenzhen and Xi’an, all to be serviced by HNA Group.

The two partnership deals were signed at an event held at Madame Tussauds in Shanghai, China earlier this week, attended by culture secretary Karen Bradley, VisitBritain director Patricia Yates and senior executives from Hainan Airlines and Alitrip.

The event also shone the spotlight on football, with VisitBritain partnering with SuperSports, China’s official Premier League broadcaster, to launch a competition to find China’s biggest Premier League fan with the prize being a VIP football-themed trip to Britain.

VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said China offered a “huge tourism opportunity” for Britain.

“Working with commercial partners such as Hainan Airlines, we’re making it easier for people to travel to Britain through increasing route connectivity and seat-capacity, a crucial part of our competitive tourism offer,” she said.

“By amplifying our marketing reach in China with Alitrip, showcasing the diversity of experiences and destinations across Britain, we’re converting the inspiration to visit into bookings, driving our ambitious plans for growth.”

Chinese visitors stay longer and travel more widely across Britain than other international visitors, averaging 15 nights compared to eight for other visitors, with more than half of this time spent outside London. They are also some of the highest spending visitors to the UK, spending on average £2,174 during each visit, more than three times the average visitor.

It is estimated that every 22 additional Chinese visitors that Britain attracts supports an additional job in tourism in the UK.

In August, UK Prime Minister Theresa May launched a Tourism Action Plan to ensure that Britain remains a top destination for visitors from across the globe.

Last year set a record for inbound tourism to Britain for visits and spend with 36.1 million visits, up 5 per cent up from 2014, and spending up 1 per cent to £22.1bn.

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Tourism agency VisitBritain has signed new partnership deals with two China-based travel sector giants as part of a strategy to attract more Chinese visitors to the UK.
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